Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Anemone grading notes

Hello everyone,

After last week’s post on the Anemone skirt, many of you have asked for more details on how I upgraded the pattern. I will try to provide you more information below and document it with pictures. To me, the whole process is quite easy and I do it on a “auto-pilot” mode. This is why I may skip things that you would like to see. If that’s the case, just send me a question and I will reply as quickly as possible.

Before we get started, you can have a look at this post I wrote a while ago. Tanya has also written a very nice article about the same subject. It is very clear.

With every project, I basically follow the same guidelines.

1.       Take my measurements
2.       Write them down next to the size chart of the company I am using
3.       Calculate the amount of virtual sizes I need to add to what they already offer
4.       Transform the pattern pieces accordingly (drawing on the printed version)
5.       If necessary, transfer it onto pattern paper (if the pattern pieces overlap)
6.       Make a muslin if I am not used to the company or if the design is intricate.

What I did with the Anemone

Steps 1 to 3: I have put all the information in the table below. As you can see, I chose to grade only 5 sizes at the hips even if my measurements indicated a “plus 6”. There are a few reasons for that:

-          If you look at the shape of the skirt, it has more ease around the hips
-          I wanted to keep the proportions of the pattern
-          Grading up 6 sizes frightened me a little
-          I carry more weight in the lower tummy area, and if I need more space, I can add a bit of ease along the front seams

Deer&Doe sizes
Bust31 1/23334 1/236 1/437 3/439 1/241
Waist23 1/225 1/426 3/428 1/23031 1/233
Hip33 3/435 1/23738 1/240 1/441 3/443 1/4
Virtual sizesUpgrading info
plus 1plus 2plus 3plus 4plus 5plus 6MEGrading
Bust43 1/24645 1/2plus 2
Waist34 1/23637 1/23941 1/240plus 5
Hip44 3/446 1/447 3/449 1/450 3/452 1/452plus 5?

Step 4: The Deer and Doe patterns come printed on large thick paper sheets. This makes it very easy to draw the alternative lines around the actual pieces. As explained in this post, I measure the distance between two sizes, and add it up, drawing little dots where the pattern line would be if it was graded all the way to the size I need. In other words, I am doing what a pattern software would do if they had to add more sizes.

Disclaimer: this is not the ideal way, in a perfect world, larger sizes would be calculated from another block, with slightly different proportions.
I usually try to go for the grading even if it is not the most accurate version you could have. It worked in most of my past attempts.

Example of grading along the waist.

The best way to go with curves is to measure at small intervals to make sure you capture the actual curvy design.

In some cases, the piece of paper is too small, I usually finish that small part when I draw onto Swedish paper.

Step 5: As you can see on the first general picture, a few pieces overlapped after I added sizes. The best you can do is to copy them onto Swedish paper.

Step 6: In this case, I made a muslin. I have not taken any picture of it (I feel silly now). It worked for me so I went ahead and cut my fashion fabric. I am super happy with the end result!

As I explained in last week’s post, I added a couple of features to the instructions: a lining and boning. Both steps were quite easy.
For the lining, I simply used the same pattern pieces (excluding peplums) as for the fashion fabric. I just shortened them by a few inches.

Sorry for this non-ironed-version :)

For the boning, I have cut 6x 4 inches of Rigilene boning pieces. All I had to do is sew it with the machine within the seam allowances of the fashion fabric
The seams were pinked after that...

And there you go! That’s how I worked around the size chart limitations :)
Not too hard heh?

Was this post helpful to you? If so, what type of info helped you the most? Let me know so I can try to include it in the future.
If you feel that some information is missing, what would you like me to include?


  1. I'm really curious as to why you didn't just slash-and-spread the pieces to increase their measurements. Especially because it doesn't appear that you changed the shapes at all. I suppose they achieve the same goal, but I'd be concerned that I'd mess up re-drawing the curves somehow.

    1. Hi Heather, I tend to never slash and spread, mainly because I don't like to cut into the pattern pieces. I also usually grade out of pure laziness. It just feels very natural to me and the measuring part of it is very relaxing...

  2. This is brilliant, your patience really paid off: the skirt is fabulous! Just a shame that Deer and Doe couldn't have added a couple more sizes in the first place!

  3. Thanks a lot for those explanations. They are very helpful for me.

  4. I haven't considered this skirt before because I'm very full at the hip and have a rather round bottom. But... looking at how gorgeous it is on you and how the little fins or louvers or sticky-outy parts actually flatter rather than lead the eye to believe the hip is wider, I'm actually quite fascinated! Even better, you and I are nearly the same measurements!!!!!!!!! I'm just a a couple inches different at the waist. How fun is that?! Same size, same size. I have a whole new perspective now on what things you've made and patterns you've chosen.

    I also appreciate that you shared all your measurement and sizing calcs. I'm working on the cute Chataigne shorts from Deer & Doe. It will be nice to compare my sizing calcs to yours and see if we approach any differently. I also love both of Tanya's recent grading posts. :) I'll be posting soon on grading and vintage. A little different twist though... Still taking photos and documenting the process for clear teaching images.

    I'm curious - did you end up making the pattern as is without making any further adjustments? I'm assuming that your virtual size would still be considered "out of the envelope".

    Again, Beautiful job.

    1. Indeed, it's always fun to find someone that has similar measurements! Let me know what the result is for the Chataigne! I have ordered it but didn't get to do it yet. I am maybe considering trying a winter/maternity version of them but I am not sure because I have not had the best experience with shorts as of late...
      For the Anemone, I did not change anything else. The lines of the design just worked really well for me.

  5. This is really helpful. I've never graded up like that. Usually I just do either a cut and spread, or work out how much I need to add to the different seams by measuring myself, or the person I'm sewing for, then working out the difference, taking into account the amount of ease needed.

    Which would give a similar result, but just a different way of going about it.

    Now I'm curious about using a different block shape to grade up with. As in you said 'in a perfect world, larger sizes would be calculated from another block, with slightly different proportions'

    What slightly different proportions are you referring to?

    Also, thanks for those links to Tanya's block. I'm reading up on there now!

    1. I think that as long as a technique works for you, you should keep it. I have never cut and spread for example, simply because "creating virtual sizes" usually worked.

      The standard "block" for plus size is a little bit different. It is quite hard to explain, but the best way is to see for yourself. If you have the Mabel from Colette, you can compare the shape of the XXl and 3XL to the other sizes, you can see that some proportions are lightly different, especially from the ribcage, down to the hips. It also makes sense because the fat accumulates differently and rarely in a proportionate way.


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